Native to Central and South America, iguanas have become popular pets in the United States. As is the case with other exotic animals that become difficult to care for, iguanas are often released into the wild by their owners. This phenomenon contributes to iguana overpopulation in places that cannot support the animal. Iguanas have become a problem in Florida, California, Texas, and Hawaii, as they compete with native species and damage crops and foliage in these areas.
Large reptiles, iguanas can weigh in excess of 18 pounds and reach lengths of up to 7 feet. Identifying characteristics include their long tails, short legs, and soft, leathery scales. Iguanas are usually green or a mix of green and gray. They have sharp claws and a row of spines along their back, extending from their neck all the way to the tip of their tail. Iguanas also have sharp, serrated teeth.
Arboreal by nature, iguanas prefer to live high in the canopies of their tropical homes. Living high amongst the trees allows the animal to bask in the sun, though female iguanas also spend time on the ground where they dig burrows to lay eggs. Excellent swimmers, the lizards make their homes near bodies of water, as well. As the iguana becomes more prevalent in the United States, they are most often found in swamps and marshlands.
Are iguanas known to enter homes or yards?
Iguanas do not typically enter areas surrounding homes and yards once released into the wild. Still, as invasive populations grow, iguanas must get creative in their search for food sources. Since they feed on a variety of vegetation, their diets may occasionally lead them into yards seeking flowers and plants.
Do iguanas harm people or property?
As mostly herbivores, iguanas feed on plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers, making landscapes a prime source of food. Iguanas also eat various fruits, including berries, figs, mangos, tomatoes, and bananas, which may drive them onto farmland. When females nest, they do so underground in burrows they dig themselves or take from other burrowing animals. Their burrowing activities can weaken or undermine sidewalks, building foundations, and patios. Additionally, iguana droppings can become unsightly and carry disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella.
Control and Safety
The best way to keep iguanas out of lawns is to employ methods of habitat modification. Erect fences or screens to protect plants and garden crops from the pest. To further deter iguanas from entering yards and climbing trees, property owners may set up barriers around trunks.
Trapping and Removal
When threatened or cornered, iguanas may scratch, bite, or use their strong tails to get away from predators, including humans and domesticated pets. Since they can carry diseases, never approach the animal without a trained professional nearby. Wildlife specialists have the knowledge, experience, and tools to effectively remove and humanely relocate pest iguanas.